Title: When Dimple Met Rishi (2017)
Author: Sandhya Menon
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Extent: 384 pages
Release Date: July 13, 2017
Meet Dimple. Her main aim in life is to escape her traditional parents, get to university and begin her plan for tech world domination.
Meet Rishi. He’s rich, good-looking and a hopeless romantic. His parents think Dimple is the perfect match for him, but she’s got other plans…
Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you probably know how tremendously in love I am with the arranged marriage trope. That moment when our two lead characters realise that crap, they actually have ~*feelings*~ for each other? I live for it, so imagine my excitement when I found out about When Dimple Met Rishi — it’s a diverse book with arranged marriage at the centre! What more can I want? As it turns out: quite a bit. 😶
When Dimple Met Rishi is marketed as a book centred on the Indian arranged marriage, but I found this to be misleading. Instead, much of the story revolves around a university coding program that Dimple has enrolled in, a program that Rishi joined knowing that his potential-future-wife will be there. It’s here that these two get to know each other as friends, not possible partners.
Though she’d take to wearing kaajal every day before she’d admit it, Dimple sometimes felt a pang at the thought of never having that. Because, she was sure, the kind of bond Mamma and Papa had would require a self-sacrifice she would never be okay making.
Dimple and Rishi are almost complete opposites, which means that naturally, their ways of interacting with their own family and culture can be remarkably different. If Dimple is more individualistic in her approach and prefers to discard aspects of her tradition, Rishi takes the reverse road: he indulges his parents and wants to fulfil their every expectation, from the career path that he chooses to the woman that he will marry. It’s an interesting contrast, one that provides an insight into Indian culture and second-gen immigrants.
Unfortunately, I was not quite charmed by these characters (or subsequently this book) the way I wanted. Try as I might, I didn’t really fall in love with Dimple and Rishi individually or root for them as a couple. They were cute, but they didn’t really endear themselves to me. The supporting characters also had noticeably little depth and felt cliched, which was a bit of a letdown because there was really no one in the book I particularly looked forward to seeing. 🙈
“When you think about it, our families are back in India, about eight thousand miles away. And they’re still so intricately connected to us. We have their names, their rituals, their traditions. Their dreams sit behind our eyelids. I think it’s beautiful.”
Menon’s writing is simple, focused mostly on dialogue with sprinkles of metaphorical prose that felt, unfortunately, somewhat out of place given how straightforward the rest of the narrative is. It makes for an easy, fast-paced book to read, but I have to admit that the style didn’t do much to me in evoking emotions or tickling the imagination. The ‘big conflict’ also felt contrived and was solved a little too easily, so everything felt… passionless to me.
In the end, though, When Dimple Met Rishi is a cute little romance wrapped in culture and diversity. While it lacked the depth that I usually seek for in my contemporaries and didn’t personally provoke the mind or the heart, it has moments of brilliance and was overall a pleasant read. I’m glad that I gave it a chance and would happily check out Menon’s future works. 🙆
REAL RATING: 3.5 stars.
* I received an ARC of WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI from the publisher via NetGalley.